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The Heart in Chinese Medicine – Is your heart in balance?

The Heart in Chinese Medicine – Is your heart in balance?

How is your heart doing? Have you ever had a broken heart? Have you ever been scared and felt your heart beating very fast?

The heart is the seat of the soul in many cultures. Our emotions and feelings influence our hearts in different ways. Laughter, love, joy and empathy for others (this also means collaborative activities) have the most positive influence on the heart. Then our heart energy can flow freely and we feel warm and affectionate. Out of this energy, we can communicate with others on the heart level and feel deeply connected.

The heart and its functions in Traditional Chinese Medicine

In TCM the heart has many more functions than in Western medicine. Let’s look at some of the most important roles of the heart in Traditional Chinese Medicine

  1. A healthy heart manifests in our complexion and pulse. The heart controls the blood circulation in the vessels. When the pulse is full and even and the complexion is rosy, then the person is in good health. 
  2. The heart houses the mind “Shen” and reflects all aspects of our spiritual, emotional and intellectual being. With an anchored Shen one is able to do the right thing at the right time in the right place. We will feel emotionally balanced and peaceful, have a sound sleep and a keen mind and memory. We feel alive and happy and follow with passion our path of life. 
  3. The heart opens up into the tongue and controls our language ability. A person who is well articulated, speaks at the right pace and at a normal volume, has a strong heart energy. As a result, the tongue is a normal red colour, normal size, is evenly shaped and is able to distinguish the 5 flavours.
  4. The heart controls the blood. The heart, together with the spleen, is involved in the production of blood and pumps the blood into the circulation and supplies it to all of the organs. The blood is the root of our mind (Shen).
  5. Sweat is the fluid of the heart. Therefore, there is a close connection between blood and body fluids. The blood is governed by the heart and is the main fluid of this organ. Sweating when feeling nervous and stressed, especially under the armpits and on the hands can indicate a heart imbalance.

The heart in Traditional Chinese Medicine

Other characteristics of the heart in Traditional Chinese Medicine

Element: Fire
Direction: South
Partner organ: Small intestine
Climate: Summer (heat)
Colour: Red
Emotion: Joy, inner harmony
Taste: Bitter
Smell: Scorched
Body tissue: Blood vessels
Sound of the voice: Laughing
Day time: 11am – 1pm

Symptoms of a heart imbalance

The heart is also called the emperor of the body. Together with the kidneys, the heart determines the state of our constitution. The heart influences the state of our emotions, mental activity, thinking, memory, sleep and consciousness. If out of balance, it can lead to numerous problems.

It can lead to emotional imbalances like:

Restlessness, emotional coldness, exaggerated joy and enthusiasm, low self-esteem, constant laughter, no humour, forgetfulness, anxiety, insecurity, manic depression, lack of self-love, hardening of the arteries, palpitations, thrombosis, red or pale complexion, excitability, talking a lot or no wish to talk, oppression, frigidity, tongue ulcers, speech difficulty, stuttering, speech impairments, nervousness, concentration and memory disorders;

It can lead to physical imbalances:

Spontaneous sweating, night sweating, hot flashes, low or high blood pressure, dizziness, fears, problems to fall asleep, disturbed sleep or insomnia, excessive dreaming, aversion to heat, hardening of the arteries (arteriosclerosis), heart and vascular diseases, thrombosis, heart attack, irregular pulse, twitching, mania;

Acupressure for the heart meridian

The heart meridian arises from the heart, then passes internally through the diaphragm and connects to the small intestine. A branch runs from the heart to the throat and to the eyes. Another branch penetrates from the heart into the lungs and comes to the surface in the armpit. There it connects with the external heart meridian who runs on the ulnar side of both arms to the ulnar side of the tip of the little finger. You can stimulate points along this meridian by gentle pressure with your thumb or index finger.

Most important acupressure points of the heart meridian 

Acupressure is closely linked to acupuncture. However, no needles are set here, but certain points of the skin are activated by gentle pressure. This helps to relieve pain and other physical ailments, reduce stress and support reducing symptoms. Therefore, acupressure is suitable for self-treatment.

Click on the following link to find the exact location of the points below:

Heart 1 – jiquan 

  • clears empty heat
  • calms the mind
  • opens the thorax
  • removes blockages from the channel

Indications

Heart and chest pain, distention and fullness of hypochondrium, pain in the axilla, palpitations, anxiety, sadness, dry throat, heartache, pain and tension in the flanks, inability to raise the shoulder;

Heart 3 – shaohai

  • calms the mind
  • drains heart fire
  • clears heart empty heat
  • removes obstructions from the channel

Indications

Anxiety, mental restlessness, difficulty falling asleep, sleep disturbances with sweating, heartache, inappropriate laughter, red eyes, severe depression;

Heart 4 – lingdao

  • nourishes the heart and calms the mind
  • strengthens the voice
  • relaxes the sinews of the elbow and arm

Indications

Loss of voice, redness and swelling of the eyes, sadness, fear, anxiety, mental restlessness, nausea, pain and obstruction along the heart and small intestine channel;

Heart 5 – Tongli

  • main point for tonifying heart-Q
  • regulates the heart rhythm
  • calms the mind
  • benefits the tongue
  • regulates uterus
  • benefits the bladder
  • benefits head and eyes

Indications

Excessive menstrual bleeding, loss of voice, stiff tongue, palpations, stuttering, red eyes, eye pain, red face, headache, dizziness, speechlessness, sadness, mental restlessness, anger, fright, agitation, enuresis;

Heart 6 – yinxi

  • clears empty heart heat
  • calms the shen
  • nourishes heart yin
  • invigorates heart blood

Indications

Night sweats, dry mouth, heart pain, stabbing in the chest, nose bleeding, palpations, jumpiness, insomnia, mental restlessness, vomiting of blood;

In combination with kidney 7 it can stop night sweating from heart yin deficiency.

Heart 7 – shenmen

  • calms the mind
  • nourishes heart blood
  • clears heart heat

Indications

Amenorrhoea, scanty periods, mental retardation in children, anxiety, memory loss, impotence in men, lack of sexual desire in women, stops itching in skin diseases, stiffness of the back, arm tremors, contraction of the arm, insomnia, poor memory, agitation, shouting, palpitations, irritability, indifference, depression.

Heart 8 – shaofu

  • drains fire from the heart and small intestine
  • regulates heart Qi from liver Qi stagnation
  • calms the shen and strengthens heart
  • regulates uterus
  • lifts sinking Qi

Indications

Itching of genitals, prolapse of uterus, difficult urination, enuresis, excessive dreaming, psychosis, worry, sadness, agitation, mental restlessness, palpitations, bad breath, bitter mouth taste, swollen tongue, eye pain, red eyes, loss of consciousness, thirst, feeling of heat, chest pain;

Heart 9 – shaochong 

  • clears heat
  • benefits the tongue and eyes
  • extinguishes wind
  • regulates Qi in the thorax
  • calms the mind
  • enhances resuscitation
  • extinguishes internal wind

Indications

Loss of consciousness, red and painful eyes, swollen tongue, palpitations, heart pain, agitation, prevents fainting, severe anxiety, fullness in the heart region, pain at the root of the tongue, manic depression, sadness, mental restlessness;

Relationships of the heart to other organs in Traditional Chinese Medicine

Heart and spleen: The spleen is the basis for producing blood. In addition, spleen weakness can also cause mucus accumulation in the heart area.

Heart and lungs: These two organs form the upper heater and are both of dynamic character. The lungs rules the Qi, the heart moves the blood.

Heart and kidney: These two organs represent elementary opposites like above and below; Fire (heart) and water (kidney);

Heart and liver: These two have a close connection on the blood and psychological level. The heart is the origin of emotions and regulates the flow of blood whereas the liver is responsible for a smooth flow of emotions, Qi and blood.

About the author Carina Greweling

She works in her practice in Paris with acupuncture, Chinese herbs and gives dietary advice. She is specialised in women’s health, especially in fertility treatments and hormonal imbalances. She offers a 15-min free call to see how she can help you.

Weight loss with Chinese Medicine – lose weight and keep it off for good!

Weight loss with Chinese Medicine – lose weight and keep it off for good!

How to lose weight and fight obesity with Chinese Medicine

Weight loss with Chinese medicine wisdom means you can finally reach your feel-good weight and maintain it. The added benefits are that you’ll not just reach your desired weight, but you’ll also feel more energised and self-confident.

How many times have you tried a diet but failed for different reasons? Maybe you lost some weight but then put it back on again? Are you ready to quit trying yet another diet? Maybe you belong to the group of people who have tried a bunch of different diets and could write a book about the experience.

The restrictions and varied advice from internet “experts” include everything from: cutting out carbohydrates, drinking 3 litres of water per day, to eating low-fat products. The short term results are often accompanied by feelings of frustration and disappointment.

How Chinese medicine views overweight and obesity

Being overweight is often linked to incorrect eating habits from the perspective of TCM. An excess of strong cooling foods such as large amounts of raw foods, dairy products, tropical fruits, fruit juices and sweets, weakens our spleen which belongs to the earth element in TCM. The spleen is responsible for transporting and transforming the food we eat to nourish our system and to keep our “digestive fire” burning. The stronger it is, the better our metabolism.

If our spleen is weak, the transformation process can no longer be completed as the body fails to transform the dampness in the body and therefore stores it as additional body weight. Consequently, it promotes the formation of dampness and phlegm. As a result, we feel tired, listless and we’ll suffer from indigestion and heaviness. If this condition persists, water retention, cellulite, swollen face and hands in the morning and obesity can result. We also speak here of a weak spleen-Qi in Chinese Medicine.

Another reason why losing weight does not work can also be stagnation in the body. In this case, it’s the liver that is usually affected as it tends to stagnate under stress, time pressure, recurrent anger, lack of exercise and regular intake of alcohol and deep-fried and grilled foods.

Fortunately, there is a range of foods that strengthen our spleen, and help to move and drain dampness-phlegm and eliminate stagnation. In addition to that we can achieve a lot by avoiding unfavourable habits.

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9 Top Tips for Weight loss with Chinese Medicine wisdom

1. Don’t skip any dishes
Eating regularly, and ideally at similar times, is important to keep your blood sugar level balanced. This will prevent any cravings for sweets and other unhealthy foods and keep your “digestive fire” burning. It will also produce Qi to keep your metabolism burning calories and fat.

Therefore, never skip meals to save calories as it is counterproductive. Often I hear people telling me that they are not hungry in the morning. That ́s a result of a weak spleen-Qi. After eating small quantities in the morning for several weeks, the sense of hunger will come back.

2. Excessive drinking without thirst
In TCM it differs for each single person how much water intake is healthy. From the point of view of TCM, the spleen has the ability to absorb excess liquids, which we consume through our food. However, if the spleen is weakened then too much water will not be excreted via the kidneys but stored in the tissues. People suffering from a weak spleen-Qi should not drink more than 1.5-2 litres per day. If you are not feeling thirsty, you should drink less.

3. Drinks for eliminating dampness and strengthening the spleen
Barley water is a wonderful drink to eliminate dampness from the body. Every day about half a litre of it can help the body excrete the existing damp-phlegm and to dissolve stagnation.
As an ideal thirst quencher and to strengthen the digestive strength, I recommend hot, boiled water. This can be drunk in the long term and helps to dissipate the moisture and thus detoxify the body.

4. Avoid dietary products
Light products, reduced-fat foods and diet products often contain flavour enhancers and artificial sweeteners that increase appetite, are difficult to digest and strain digestion. They are often found hidden on the ingredients list under E numbers, maltodextrin, oligofructose and sodium nitrite.

5. Avoid bread
Bread is difficult to digest and produces dampness. As a result it won’t be completely digested and stores the remains as dampness in the body. Many people experience gas, bloating and soft bowels after consuming it. The more moisture the bread has, the worse the impact.

6. Avoid foods that produce dampness
As explained in the beginning, Chinese medicine considers that accumulated dampness is a factor that causes weight gain. Dampness within the body is produced when we are eating too much, too greasy and the wrong foods and when we are under stress. As a result we can become overweight, and so therefore, we must eliminate this dampness.

Foods and ingredients to avoid include: White sugar and sweets, ice-cream, noodles and bread, overconsumption of raw foods esp. salads, tomatoes and cucumbers.

Furthermore, avoid fruits like: Pineapple, kiwi, rhubarb, lemon, banana, kaki, mango, papaya, watermelon and honey melon lead to dampness.

Drinks that weaken the spleen: Cold drinks, soft drinks, fruit juices, algues and soy products.

The same applies for cow milk products like: yogurt, cheese and others.

Instead you should consume more vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fish which are abundant in calcium.

7. Start your day with a cooked breakfast
Do you love your yogurt bowl with fresh fruits in the morning? Do you often catch colds and feel tired despite having a healthy breakfast? Maybe this “cold” combo in the morning is completely wrong for your organism.

The most active time period of the stomach and spleen is between 7 and 11 am, according to the Chinese organ clock. Therefore, the most important meal of the day is breakfast. The ideal breakfast is a warm cooked meal that will fuel your digestive fire, and provide a good basis for the metabolism throughout the day.

Finally, If you belong to the group of people who skip breakfast, you may expect a weakening in your spleen.

8. No snacking in between
Many diets recommend five or more meals a day. Studies show that this leads to weight gain. In order to burn fat optimally, three meals a day are better with 4-5 hours between them. In addition to that, the blood sugar level is much better balanced (does not apply to diabetics). Eat more wholesome foods because they simply fill you up longer.

Be patient and you will get there

Instead of going on a crash diet, a diet change is better. You will be supplied with all nutrients and the metabolism of the body will not be slowed down, as it is the case with radical diets. Weight loss with Chinese Medicine will not only help you achieve your desired weight, but will also help you maintain it and avoid the yo-yo effect.

Get in touch with me if you want to lose weight and learn more about your metabolism and which foods are good and bad for you. I offer individual nutritional consultations in combination with herbals and acupuncture for a safe and efficient weight loss.

Acne and Pimples – Finding relief with the right Diet and Chinese Medicine

Acne and Pimples – Finding relief with the right Diet and Chinese Medicine

Acne and larger pus-filled pimples that are sometimes even painful and itchy can indicate a profound imbalance in the body. The specific areas of the face and body where the acne is found, can indicate precisely which organs have fallen into disharmony. The most affected areas are the face, chest and upper back.

Periods of hormonal changes, stressful times, bad nutrition, climate and lifestyle changes or inner emotional conflicts can all lead to outbreaks. As a result, women and men who are affected often experience shame, low self-esteem and despair when the acne and blemishes persist long-term.

Even humidity and hot weather can create skin issues and a new outbreak of pimples.

Sometimes, skin care products help to reduce the severity however, improvement in nutrition and other internal factors is essential for profound healing of acne and pimples.

Your emotional health affects acne

Acne is most commonly present during adolescence, a period with psychological instability. But, also after this life span it can affect women and men in all kinds of ages.

Jacques Martel explains in his book “Le grand dictionnaire des malaises et des maladies” the related emotions and inner conflicts that are often seen with acne.

According to him, the face relates to our individuality and the harmony between what I live internally and what is happening externally. The face is that part of us that faces others first, the one that allows us to be accepted or rejected. Thus, acne is often associated with a lack of acceptance of oneself. It can relate to feelings about ourself or others of:  irritation, criticism, resentment, rejection, fear, shame or insecurity. In some cases the affected person may even find herself ugly or disgusting. The inner lived conflict is manifested by a revolution of pimples. Instead of experiencing liberty and movement in life, the person withdraws herself in her inner world, feels stuck and frustrated. She may even be afraid of losing her face when telling someone what she feels and fears the judgments someone could make about her.

The back represents our past, habits, old fears and anxieties. When it is on the upper back, it represents repressed anger or irritation that needs to be relieved. On the chest, it represents the future and what is planned for me.

As a result, we need to give our inner emotional wellbeing as well the needed attention for healing our skin.

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Acne as seen by TCM

According to Chinese medicine, acne results from heat in the lung or stomach meridian and / or blood heat and stagnation in different energy pathways. As more heat is present, pimples can become redder, itchier and more inflamed.

Another important factor can be phlegm. A clear sign of phlegm is seen if the skin shows thick pimples, boils, swellings and fluid-filled blisters.

In this article, I would like to show you which symptoms can be seen at the different disharmonies of acne and blemishes and which simple nutrition changes can help to relieve symptoms.

Lung heat symptoms

  • dryness of mouth and nose
  • predominance of acne near the nose and lower cheeks
  • sometimes slight itching
  • often red tongue in the first third with a thin yellow coat, pulse may be rapid and floating

Disorder in the chong– and ren mai with blood heat

  • excessive emotional disturbances
  • chin, jaw and chest area are mostly affected
  • sometimes excessive hair growth
  • skin gets worse before menstruation and better when period sets in
  • may experience fullness of stomach or nausea
  • may experience premenstrual symptoms (PMS)

Stomach heat symptoms

  • constipation or dry stools
  • foul breath
  • aversion to heat
  • pimples around the mouth, shoulders and back
  • slight sweating
  • large appetite
  • increased thirst and a preference for cold drinks
  • normal or redder in the centre of the tongue with yellow, sometimes sticky coating, pulse may be rapid and forceful

Blood heat and blood and qi stagnation symptoms

  • emotional trauma and disturbances
  • long persisting severe acne with often scar tissue
  • dark red and inflamed eruptions which resemble pustules
  • flushed face
  • strong aversion to heat
  • dark urine and dry stools
  • red tongue with often redder tip and dry yellow coating, rapid pulse

All of these imbalances can be seen as well with dampness-phlegm. If this is the case you will also see:

Dampness-phlegm symptoms

  • deep, thick and fluid-filled pimples
  • swollen pimples
  • oily skin
  • thirst with no desire to drink
  • purple or red tongue with a greasy or sticky coating
  • pulse may be slippery or wiry

Diet and lifestyle changes for relieving acne and pimples

Most importantly when suffering from acne is to change the nutrition and lifestyle habits to reduce heat in the body. As seen above, heat and sometimes in combination with dampness are the causing reasons for acne. Consequently, you need to avoid foods that produce heat and eat more foods that cool down the heat. In addition to that dampness-phlegm causing foods need to be cut out. Luckily, there is a variety of foods that can be easily consumed every day.

Avoid foods that produce heat

  • chocolate and cacao
  • spices like cinnamon, pepper, piment, chilli, ginger and ginseng root, anise, rosemary, muscat, fennel seeds, fenugreek seeds, tabasco
  • onions and garlic
  • vinegar
  • lamb, mutton, sheep, goat, deer, sausage
  • overconsumption of meat
  • deep-fried, grilled and smoked foods
  • foods containing sulfur
  • shellfish especially shrimp
  • horseradish and leek
  • chai tea
  • alcohol especially red wine and high-percentage alcohols
  • coffee – also see my article “Coffee – Is it good or bad for your health?”

The best results are seen when you cut off these foods for at least 10 weeks and then continue to eat them very scarcely.

Other heat producing factors

  • stress and time pressure
  • suppressed and excessive emotions produce heat especially anger, frustration, sadness and dissatisfaction affect the skin health
  • eating too quickly
  • lack of sleep and going to bed too late (after 11pm)
  • hot weather

Foods that help to reduce heat

  • steamed and cooked dishes, soups and stews
  • rice, also see my article and recipe for a “Congee” 
  • amaranth, quinoa, millet (high content of silicon), polenta
  • small quantities of duck
  • steamed and cooked vegetables
  • watercress, radishes
  • sage, melissa
  • chamomile, orange flower and rose flower tea
  • peppermint and dandelion (be careful when suffering from digestive problems and a general feeling of cold)
  • apple and pear compote
  • berries like strawberry, blueberry, currant, cranberry, gooseberry
  • fresh sprouts such as nasturtium
  • small amounts of quark, sour milk, sour cream and kefir
  • legumes (be careful if you suffer from digestive problems)

If you suffer besides heat symptoms as well from dampness-phlegm you need to

Reduce foods that produce phlegm-dampness

  • overconsumption of raw foods esp. salads
  • drinking while eating
  • excessive drinking without thirst
  • white sugar and sweets (one of the most seen reasons!)
  • honey, sweets and ice-cream
  • noodles and bread
  • wheat bran, wheat sprouts
  • tomato, cucumber
  • yogurt, cheese and other milk products
  • cold drinks, soft drinks, fruit juice
  • pineapple, kiwi, rhubarb, lemon, banana, kaki, mango, papaya, watermelon, honey melon
  • dried fruits
  • algues
  • shellfish
  • soy sauce, tofu and other soy products
  • agar-agar
  • mineral water, wheat beer
  • too many eggs (more than 4 per week)
  • overconsumption of coconut milk
  • greasy foods
  • red meat
  • salt

Other dampness-phlegm producing factors

  • stress
  • fast food
  • smoking
  • drugs especially marijuana
  • humid and hot weather

Eat more reducing dampness-phlegm foods

  • eat small quantities of bitter salads like arugula, chicory, radicchio
  • basil, parsley, cardamom, curcuma, caraway seed, oregano and majoram
  • celery, black radish and cabbage
  • adzuki beans, kidney beans
  • all mushrooms especially mu-err and shiitake
  • apple and apricot
  • sardines

Clients who are suffering from acne and pimples are often very impatient to see quick results. It’s important to mention here that the longer the acne already persists the longer it will take to see results. Therefore, when the acne already exists for more than six months and has entered deeper layers, I use in my practice Chinese herbs and acupuncture to relieve symptoms quicker.

Many people suffering from acne and pimples have deep emotional conflicts which produce heat in the body. Besides the emotional aspect, stress and constant time pressure can lead to excessive heat in the body as well. Consequently, it should be looked for relaxation exercises or therapist and coaches who can help to adequately express emotions.

Do you have more questions?

Please contact me if you are interested in an individual consultation and treatment. You can also leave a comment below if you have further questions and feel free to share your experience. Do you have other tips for improving acne? Then let us know about it!

 

References

Acupuncture Case Histories from China; Chen Jirui, M.D. and Nissi Wang, M.Sc.;

Le grand dictionnaire des malaises et des maladies; Jacques Martel;

Mit der 5-Elemente-Ernährung zur Wohlfühlfigur; Barbara Temelie;

Die 8 außerordentlichen Gefäße in der traditionellen Medizin; Barbara Kirschbaum;

Wheat Berry Tea for Better Sleep and Fewer Sweats

Wheat Berry Tea for Better Sleep and Fewer Sweats

Do you sometimes have problems falling asleep? Do you feel restless and agitated especially in the evening and when going to bed? Maybe you suffer from spontaneous sweating during the day or night. Wheat berry tea can be a great help when used as a supportive, alternative and natural remedy to ease these symptoms.

Wheat berry properties according to TCM

In Chinese medicine, wheat berry tea is refreshing, cooling and moistening because it replenishes the heart Qi and calms the mind. It tonifies the yin of the heart, liver and kidneys by cooling down, alleviating thirst and strengthening superficies to control sweating.

Temperature: cool
Taste: sweet, slightly salty
Affected meridian: heart, kidneys, spleen
Effective direction: descending

Effective for treating:

– Sleeping disorders due to Blood deficiency* and Yin deficiency*
– Spontaneous sweating due to Qi deficiency*
– Night sweats and hot flashes due to Yin deficiency*
– Postpartum deficiency sweats
– Bed wetting in children
– Emotional instabilities
– Palpitations
– Irritability

Recipe
1/2 litre of cold water
2 tbsp of germinated wheat berries (Fu Xiao Mai)

Simmer 30 minutes, remove the wheat grains and drink over the day preferably lukewarm.

Attention: Don’t drink with gluten intolerance.

Tip: It is important to drink the tea for several weeks if the symptoms have been present for some time. It takes time to rebuild the yin of the heart, liver and kidneys, but after some time you will feel calmer and more grounded, less prone to sweating and have a deeper and more restful sleep.

When to avoid wheat berry tea

As wheat berries have a very cooling effect, you should only drink it in combination with liquorice and red dates when suffering from:

– Yang deficiency*
– Dampness*
– Diarrhoea
– Sensitivity to cold

Herbal tea mixture

The Chinese herbal mixture of wheat berries combined with liquorice root and red dates harmonizes the center and supports digestion, strengthens the heart and soothes the mind. In addition, it helps to ease tension and stress, melancholy, worry and hyperactivity. It helps exhausted women after a tiring birth and calms babies who cry frequently at night.

Recipe
1 litre of cold water
2 tbsp of germinated wheat berries (Fu Xiao Mai)
5 pieces of liquorice root (Gan Cao)
2 red dates (Da Zao)

Simmer the wheat berries for 50 minutes and add the liquorice and red dates for another 10 minutes. Then remove the herbs and drink over the day preferably lukewarm.

You can find these Chinese herbs online and in Chinese herbal stores. Some I can recommend are:

France: Calebasse

Germany: Zietenapotheke

Netherlands – shop that ships all over Europe: Shenzhou

If you are suffering from sleeping disorders and heart palpitations, take a look at my article:
Sleep Problems & Heart Palpitations – How a Change in Diet and Chinese Medicine can help

*Yin deficiency symptoms:

– Dry throat and/or mouth, esp. at night
– Dry eyes and skin
– Night sweats, hot flashes
– Tinnitus
– Dizziness, vertigo
– Insomnia
– Tongue: no coating, colour red

*Blood deficiency symptoms:
– Dull or pale complexion
– Extreme fatigue
– Headaches, migraines
– Feels easily hurt and stressed
– Brittle nails
– Poor memory and difficulty focusing
– Feeling of disembodiment
– Infertility
– Depression

*Yang deficiency symptoms:
– Slow metabolism
– Cold body and limbs
– Low motivation and assertiveness
– Clamminess of the skin
– Shortness of breath
– No desire to talk
– Water retention possible

*Dampness symptoms:
– Water retention
– Cellulite
– Overweight
– Heavy head
– Cloudy head
– Feels sleepy and sluggish
– Poor digestion
– Cravings for sweets
– Acne, eczema, psoriasis
– Dull headache
– Yellow eyes and skin
– Plenty of vaginal discharge

References

Maciocia, Giovanni. The Foundations of Chinese Medicine: A Comprehensive Text. Seattle, WA: Eastland Press, Inc. 2009. Print.

„Das 5-Elemente-Kochbuch von Barbara Temelie und Beatrice Trebuth“ (Joy-Verlag)

Female Sexuality & Chinese Medicine: Solving Sexual Problems Naturally

Female Sexuality & Chinese Medicine: Solving Sexual Problems Naturally

How can Chinese Medicine promote a healthy sex life

Having a fulfilling and healthy sex life is important for our physical and mental health and powerful for our personal growth. It depends on many different aspects including your physical state and emotional wellbeing. Therefore, we will take a look at how Chinese medicine can help us with difficulties we might experience. Let’s first understand the basic principle of TCM to see how this is connected with our sexuality.

Chinese Medicine and the principle of Yin & Yang

Chinese medicine is based on the theory that all imbalances and illnesses are due to a disturbance in Yin and Yang. Yin and Yang are opposite forces but interdependent and they attract and complement each other.

Yin is feminine and stands for: black, dark, passive, the moon, cold, soft, receptive, sensitive and quiet.

Yang on the other side is masculine and represents: white, light, fire, creativity, warm, rich, hard, penetrating and active.

They both form a unity and everything in the universe can be seen through this perspective.

When you look at a hill, you will see a side exposed to the sun and another part in the shadow. Yang presents here the sunny part and Yin the shady side. In the transformation from day and night, the day is yang and active, bright and dynamic and the night associated with yin as it is passive, dark and calm. Yang will go over in Yin and Yin goes over in Yang.

Every single thing is going through this process of constant change and transformation. One cannot exist without the other.

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Yin & Yang and their role in Sexual Health

In sexuality, two people meet to express and experience themselves as one. They want to complement each other to enjoy pleasure, closeness and intimacy. Yin and Yang meet here to form a unity and then will separate again. Yin is the receptive, soft, passive and lubricating part and Yang the penetrating, hard and active one.

In each organ, a Yin and Yang part is represented and the organs most important for having a healthy sex life are the kidneys, liver and the heart.

The kidneys organ system consists of the kidney Yin, kidney Yang and kidney Essence. The Essence, also called jing, is inherited by our parents and considered to be the base for development, and human growth and vitality. In effect, the kidneys are the root of life and they influence our fertility, vital force, ageing, sexual vitality and procreative ability in men.

The heart governs blood, controls the blood vessels and sweating and is responsible for bringing oxygenated blood to all parts in the body. The heart hosts the mind “shen” which relates to spirit and mental health. If the mind “shen” is anchored in the heart we can experience joy, pleasure and open our heart to others.

The liver meridian (energy pathway) is circling the external genitals and goes through the chest and one of the main tasks of the liver is to ensure a smooth flow of Qi in the body.

All the organs are interconnected to each other and cannot properly function when one is out of balance, and therefore counteractive towards a healthy sex life.

The most common sexual problems women are experiencing are:

  • Lack of sexual desire or low libido
  • Lack of arousal
  • Difficulty achieving orgasm
  • Painful intercourse

Lack of sexual desire or low libido

Even when a healthy sex life is desired, low libido is often experienced due to a deficient kidney yang in combination with the heart yang. As a result, we experience too much cold and can feel slightly depressed, the kidney Yangs function to ignite the sexual fire is impaired. It can be accompanied by feelings of exhaustion and tiredness, spontaneous sweating, breathlessness, infertility, under-functioning thyroid, cold feet and lower back, nocturia, lower backache, abdominal distention and fullness, and water retention in the feet and around ankles. This state has usually developed over a longer period of time.

Possible reasons for having a deficient kidney Yang:

  • Diet: Too much raw foods, ice-cooled foods and drinks, sugar, refined carbohydrates, yoghurt, cow milk products, soft drink, soy milk products, black tea, green tea.
  • Excessive physical work and exercise.
  • Chronic illnesses e.g. Hypothyroidism
  • Inherited poor constitution.
  • Chronic anxiety.

Foods that strengthen kidney-Yang:

  • Ginger, cinnamon, cloves, cardamon
  • Sardines, salmon, squid
  • Quinoa, oat, whole grain rice, wild rice, black rice
  • Walnut, chestnut
  • Pumpkin seed
  • Red wine (just here and there a glass)
  • Pumpkin seed oil, sesame oil (not roasted)

Eat regularly, never skip any dishes, prefer warm foods out of the oven, cooked and stir-fried.

Acupuncture and Herbs help to:

  • Tonify and warm kidney and heart yang
  • Promote the transformation of fluids

When lack of arousal hinders a healthy sex life

A lack of arousal can be experienced when the kidney Yin and kidney Essence is weak, often accompanied by heart Yin deficiency. You might still have a desire for sex but with the missing physical stimuli needed for a healthy sex life. Then the body lacks moisture it can show up in vaginal dryness. Depending on how long the deficiency has existed, other symptoms can occur as well like: dizziness, tinnitus, depression, poor memory, lower backache, night sweating and dry mouth during the night.

Possible reasons for having a deficient kidney Yin:

  • Diet: Foods poor in minerals, fast food, plenty of coffee, regular consumption of spicy and fried foods, alcohol.
  • Overwork over a period of several years.
  • Stress, lack of sleep, spending too much time in front of the TV and notebook.
  • Strong bleeding during pregnancy, birth and period or during operation.
  • Excessive sexual activity, especially during the teenage years.
  • Overconsumption of Chinese herbs that strengthen kidney Yang.
  • Chronic anxiety and worry.

Foods that strengthen kidney-Yin and kidney essence:

  • Algae
  • Amaranth, millet
  • Black beans, green beans and kidney beans
  • Lentils
  • Blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, currants, mulberry
  • Coconut meat and milk
  • Olive oil
  • Raisins, dates, black grapes
  • Black sesame, chia seeds
  • Sesame oil
  • Shiitake (mushrooms)
  • Soy sauce (Tamari or Shoyu)
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Tempeh
  • Sardines, white fish, oyster
  • Wheat grain tea

Your preference should be for foods that are steamed, blanched or boiled in water.

Acupuncture and Herbs help to:

  • Tonify kidney Yin and heart Yin
  • Calm the mind
  • Clear heat if necessary

Conclusion: Give your body time to rebuild kidney Yin and kidney Yang. It takes patience but pays out in the long run for your health and sexual life.

Difficulty achieving orgasm

The inability to achieve sexual climax can be a result of a stagnant liver Qi. If the liver Qi stagnation occurs in the meridian it can lead to a decline of arousal in the breasts and difficulties to achieve an orgasm. Other symptoms that might appear are melancholy, moodiness, feeling of a lump in the throat, irregular periods, premenstrual tension, cold hands, feeling of distention in the chest or abdomen, tender breasts before period and feeling easily irritable and aggressive.

Possible reasons for having a stagnant liver Qi:

  • Diet: Too much meat, heavy and grilled foods, fast food and convenience products, overconsumption of: spicy foods, cinnamon, chai tea, garlic, sweets, coffee.
  • Eating too quickly. Overeating.
  • Excessive demands and overwork, the pressure to perform.
  • Not enough movement.
  • Stress over a long period of time.
  • Too much alcohol and some medications and contraceptives.
  • The most common symptom is excessive emotions like recurrent feelings of anger, resentment and frustration.

Foods that promote a smooth liver Qi flow:

  • Saffron, turmeric
  • Cider vinegar
  • Eggplants, artichoke, turnip cabbage, green cabbage, beetroot, radish, celery, olives, sprouts
  • Plums
  • Fresh green herbs like basil, cress, mint, chive
  • Pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed oil
  • Teas like orange flower blossom, rose flower tea, dandelion, peppermint and jasmine

Don’t eat under stress, avoid heavy and greasy dishes, too much alcohol, grilled and deep-fried foods.

Acupuncture and Herbs help to:

  • Move liver Qi
  • Smooth the liver

Painful intercourse

Pain during sexual intercourse can put a strain on a relationship. Some women experience pain during sex as their vagina is too dry. Then all the advice above for a weak kidney Yin apply.

Other women have very tight vaginal muscles, also called vaginismus. In this state, they are unable to relax these muscles and consequently, penetration cannot happen. Sexual and physical traumas can lead to this condition. In this case, food cannot offer a solution, however, acupuncture has shown good results by balancing the Yin and Yang via liver and pericardium points.

In addition, trauma therapy and Bach flower remedies can help to overcome the trauma. Some Bach flower remedies that have shown good results are Crab Apple, Larch, Rock Rose, Star of Bethlehem, Vine, Walnut and Water Violet.

Some women diagnosed with endometriosis and fibroids experience painful intercourse as well. In their case, it is due to blood stagnation combined with other imbalances.

Please find more ideas about what to eat and to avoid in my articles:

Fibroid Diet – Best and Worst Foods to eat

Endometriosis and Diet – Foods to avoid and what you should eat more of

In my practice, I advise my patients on the use of herbs and acupuncture that encourages blood circulation, invigorates blood, clears heat and moves the liver Qi. Food alone cannot bring a solution when the diseases are already too advanced but it is crucial for the positive course of treatment. Women with fibroids and endometriosis must be accompanied by a Gyn.

Any questions? Get in contact with me and let’s discuss together how I can help you.

Also have a look at my article 5 Foods that Boost your Sex Drive”

About the author Carina Greweling

She is a state-approved naturopath from Germany who studied after her exam Chinese medicine, craniosacrale therapy and Bach flowers and deepened her knowledge of meditation and yoga while she was living in India. She offers in her practice in Paris tailor-made treatments and is specialised in women’s health. In regular workshops and yoga retreats she proposes to gain deeper knowledge and inspiration about a healthy body and mind. She also gives online consultations.

Some resources:

Vaginismus Successfully Treated with Chinese Medicine – A Case Study

The Foundations of Chinese Medicine: A Comprehensive Text by Giovanni Maciocia CAc( Nanjing)

Coffee – Is it Good or Bad for your Health?

Coffee – Is it Good or Bad for your Health?

The Benefits and Risks of Coffee as seen by Chinese Medicine

Let’s talk about coffee today. Do you belong to the group of people who have a strong love for coffee and cannot live without it? Most probably yes! I get regularly asked by my clients if coffee is healthy or not. The answer is, it depends! Coffee is not considered specifically good, or bad for people in general, instead, it is based on each individual’s circumstances.

Each food in Chinese medicine is classified by its properties and energy and how it affects your body in its current state. Therefore, we take into consideration the flavour like pungent, salty, sweet, bitter and salty and the thermal properties to see if the food has cooling, warming, heating or neutral effect on us and how it energetically works in our body.

We take a close look now at the benefits and risks of coffee.

Chinese medicine views coffee from a different perspective

Coffee is bitter to slightly sweet in taste, belongs to the element fire in Chinese medicine and has diuretic, deviating, digestive, drying, invigorating and stimulating effects.

Due to the bitter substances in the coffee, the direction of movement is downwards and therefore benefits the digestion by promoting a dynamic push after a heavy dish. It increases metabolism and promotes the absorption of fat and animal proteins. Thus, espresso or strong coffee after a heavy dish is not bad.

However, coffee also has drying properties and too much of it has a dehydrating effect and can promote constipation and dry skin. Make sure to always drink a glass of water on the side.

Coffee moves the Qi and heats the body up and especially when you feel generally cold and drained you will like the warming and uplifting impact on your body. But be careful. In Chinese medicine, we say this is due to the mobilisation of the yang of the kidneys, and a regular intake will, therefore, weaken the kidneys yang even more. As a result, you could feel colder and even more tired.

Coffee is known for its invigorating effects on our mind and concentration, however, shortly after this depletes our concentration and mental acuity. This explains the need for another and then yet another cup!

The stimulating effect of coffee moves the Qi of the heart and leads to excitement. Therefore, if you tend to be nervous and restless or you just drink way too much, you might know the overstimulating effects which in some leads to anxiety, severe restlessness and heart palpitations.

So, who should consume coffee and who should rather keep their hands off?

The upside of coffee

Who is benefiting from a regular cup?

In Chinese medicine, we say that people who suffer from internal damp heat can benefit from drinking coffee. The following symptoms indicate that you might be suffering from damp heat:

  • feeling of heaviness
  • puffiness of the skin
  • weeping eczema, acne
  • distended abdomen
  • frequent urinary tract infections
  • burning and foul-smelling stool
  • severe menstrual cramps
  • a feeling of fullness of chest or epigastrium
  • phlegm discharge
  • a tendency to fungal diseases
  • frequent nausea
  • swelling or water retention
  • nodular masses
  • intolerance of fatty food
  • loose bowels
  • gallstones

If you recognise yourself here, you are welcome to drink coffee – but in moderation! Please note that internal damp heat is the breeding ground for other severe illnesses like cancer and chronic diseases. On a long-term basis, you need to consider dietary and lifestyle changes.

The downside of coffee

Who is at risk when drinking a regular cup?

Many people suffer from energetic imbalances that indicate they should consume very small amounts or none at all. For them, there is a high risk that their symptoms will worsen when consuming it regularly. Consequently, avoid coffee when suffering from any of the following symptoms:

  • stomach problems
  • inner restlessness
  • tension and nervousness
  • sleeping disorders
  • dreams and nightmares
  • night sweats
  • dry skin
  • dry bowel movements and constipation
  • PMS complaints such as breast tenderness, mood swings, etc.
  • sensitivity to cold
  • low libido
  • nocturnal urination
  • being pregnant
  • heart palpations
  • increased heartbeat
  • low iron levels (coffee inhibits iron absorption)
  • hair loss
  • brittle nails and dry hair
  • exhaustion and burnout
  • menopause problems like night sweats, etc.

Some combinations to make your coffee more well-balanced

If you consume coffee on a regular basis, you can also try to moderate and improve its effects. You could

  • add cardamom to reduce its aggressive effect on the stomach
  • add organic cream to reduce its drying effect
  • buy organic to reduce the risk of herbicides and pesticides
  • eat something before drinking it to reduce the strong effect it has on an empty stomach
  • make sure to moderate your intake. The quantity plays an important role.
About the author Carina Greweling

She is a state-approved naturopath from Germany who studied after her exam Chinese medicine, craniosacral therapy and Bach flowers and deepened her knowledge of meditation and yoga while she was living in India. She offers in her practice in Paris tailor-made treatments and is specialised in women’s health. In regular workshops and yoga retreats she proposes to gain deeper knowledge and inspiration about a healthy body and mind. She also gives online consultations.